Jhene Aiko is Nylon’s November cover girl and she looks as beautiful as ever. As she prepares for her upcoming 14-city tour with Willow Smith and others, Jhene sat down with Nylon magazine to talk about the loss of her brother and how it has inspired her latest album, Trip, her tattoo of her boo Big Sean and using psychedelics.
Everyone was in complete shock when Jhene showed off one of her latest tattoos, a portrait of her boo Big Sean on her arm. Jhene and Sean has been dating since last year, and teamed up to as a group, Twenty88 and released an album that same year. The tattoo shows a striking handsome Sean in a suit with a bow tie, placed just above Jhene’s left elbow. When she was asked what was the motivation for getting him inked on her, her response was pretty romantic. “I just love his face. I think his face is perfect.”
Jhene’s older brother Miyagi Chilombo passed away from cancer on July 19, 2012, at the young age of 26. The singer shared that her brother, who was only two years older than her, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010. It was the birth of her daughter and the death of her brother that defines the most principal moments of her life. With his full name – Miyagi Hasani Ayo Chilombo – scrolled in a red cursive on her collarbone, across from another tattoo dedicated to her brother. “Why aren’t you smiling?“, on her right wrist, in reference to one of his last tweets. Aiko talked about how after his passing, she struggled with understanding living in the world without her beloved sibling.
I never thought of a life without him. That was not something I ever thought was possible, you know? Sometimes I’ll have a grea understanding of life, and understand he’s still here, that he’s within me and my siblings and my daughter and my parents and in the stars. And then some days I’ll wake up, and I’m like, ‘Wait, what? Where’s my brother? And it’s literally like, i don’t know what kind of day it’s going to be, and because we were so close, it feels wrong when I start to forget, hen those memories start to fade.
In honor of her brother and the memories they shared, Jhene started to take solo trips to remote places like Big Sur and Hawaii, where she wrote her poetry that she later shared on her Instagram account.
Jhene went on to talk about using psychedelics to help deal with the grief of losing a loved one.
“Growing up in California, I experimented with marijuana very young, and I had older friends, so I was drinking at a young age too,” she started. Jhene, however also candidly spoke about her use of sleeping pills, “I was sort of sneaky and bad, but never bad to the point where everyone was worried about me because I was still responsible.”
The singer admits that it was after her brother’s death, her habits escalated. “That day I took a Valium, and I feel like then on it was like, ‘Okay, what’s next?’ I was very naive in the sense of not realizing how it was affecting me, or how it could affect my health.” Jhene tried to counteract the use of these sleeping pills, by taking Percocet and stimulants such as cocaine. She said she soon became hypersensitive to whatever drugs she would take, including birth control pills. The tiny-framed singer also admitted that she grew a habit of performing while under the influence of alcohol. “Like, literally drunk. I would have a drink on the stage to the point where I was just sick.” Jhene also stated that her relationships with men also helped to numb the pain she was suffering from. Before dating Big Sean, Jhene married music producer Dot da Genius in 2014. However, the couple filed for divorce after 2 years of marriage, it was finalized in October 2017.
It wasn’t until the discovery of the psychedelic mushroom, psilocybin, Jhene was able to quit all of the other habits that she has absorbed in the last few years of her life. After experimenting with “mushroom tea” during her trips to Big Sur.
“Sometimes I would talk to trees and hear them say things back. But to me, it wasn’t a hallucination. It was me being open enough to receive what they really were. Hearing birds – it wasn’t them just singing, it was them communicating with each other. There was a real world all around me.”
You can read more of Jhene’s interview with Nylon on their website.